Arts

50 years of work by local artist is featured in new exhibit

10 Wading In the Water Alvin AileyThe possibilities of painting and mixed media is the underlying theme of the new exhibit opening at the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County during 4th Friday on July 23.
Revelation: 50 Years of Painting: Works by Dwight Smith is the Art Council’s first 50-year retrospect exhibition by a living artist, working in an abstract style.

The public is invited to attend the opening or visit the Arts Council during the last week in July and through September 11.

Visitors to the gallery will have the chance to see the progression of Smith’s work and experience the joyfulness he brings to an abstract style of painting and working in mixed media.

To see Smith’s work is to become more familiar with a different way of looking at the possibilities of image making. Visitors will hopefully leave the gallery having greater insight in “how” the work of Smith conveys meaning in his style and ways he works with materials.

To understand the “how” everyone visiting the exhibit should allow themselves to experience the art “as it is.” If you are an individual who prefers figurative or narrative works of art, take the time to see or try to see what the artist has been exploring for the last 50 years to express meaning in his work.

Not required to enjoy Smith’s work, but understanding he comes from the tenets of the modernist school of abstract expressionism, is a doorway you should enter and immerse yourself in the style of abstraction.
Smith has been always driven by the early abstract expressionist’s principles in painting: the sensation of immediacy, a painting is not a picture, but an object that has the same capabilities as sculpture to occupy space, possess thickness, density, and weight.

In lieu of descriptive subject matter in a painting to evoke meaning, Smith focuses on form to conjure meaning. Although he started off predominantly in watercolors, he later moved to oil and acrylic.

In the latter mediums, he does not use layers of transparent colors to create the immaterial; instead, the opacity of the ever-present paint surface, or the collage surface, leads us to materiality — the physicality of the work.

The opacity of Smith’s color palette is not an elusive approach to painting; it invites us to know the physical sensation of touch. Combined with texture, we can begin to understand his painting is not about arrested or metaphorical touch, but the immediacy of touch.

Being open to abstraction as a style, visitors will be able to study and experience how this artist embeds meaning in materials. For Smith, the sources of his lifetime pursuit in painting are combining iconic symbols with the exploration of surface quality and the power of abstraction to communicate an idea or a feeling, and collage as a significant 20th century method.

This search stayed with him after his graduation from Wayne State with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting in 1976, during his return to Wayne State to earn a Master of Art in Painting in 1992, and the highest studio degree, a Master of Fine Art in

Painting at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2012.

Knowing the artist’s statement, we can follow the timeline of his pursuit of “integrating opposites into a state of harmony and balance. Each work is a commitment to intimate concerns about painting and the language of abstraction. Research and investigations into contemporary painting involve mixed media painting and drawings that are influenced by material surfaces, textures and scale.”

Seeing the timeline of the paintings in the exhibit, it is easy to identify when the use of symbols emerged and the significance of the symbol. Smith’s artists statement explains the purpose of symbolism in his work: “Elements of design referenced in African, African American, or multi-cultural imagery create a catalyst to begin a visual language that informs the work. Through the work, I am responding to the tension generated by a resounding past and an insistent present.”

The artist’s commitment to the abstract form and the use of specific symbols guides us to understanding personal meaning in his most recent work. Smith explains: “The works celebrate life, family histories and tributes to artists. I express certain social realities concerning the world while exploring aesthetic qualities of being black in America and addressing the literal symbology of contemporary blackness within the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, creating a pliable structure for intuition, improvisation, and chance.”

Building on 20th century modernism, contemporary art is even more varied and complex. Personal expression can include beauty, but most often works can be highly political, globalization has influenced styles, the digital age continues to impact everyone, and themes of identity and social unrest is prevalent. Yet, Smith has remained focused on the formal problems of painting and the expressive power of material.

His style is a way to express his personal narrative about states of being — specifically his experiences of being an African American male in America. Even though growing up Black in America continues to have serious challenges and obstacles in American culture, we leave Revelation: 50 Years of Painting understanding how joyfulness, spirituality, love of music, love of dance, and love of life are the core of Dwight Smith’s beingness: and it is this feeling, or state of being, which is communicated throughout his work.

It is important to understand why an artist has the impulse to create, but it is also important to know what choices an artist’s makes that encourage or support their efforts to remain an artist.

For Smith, a key influence was an African American art organization which was established in the 1950s, the National Conference of Artists, Michigan Chapter.

While galleries and the “artworld” were not promoting African American artists up until the 1990s, the NCA was an important meeting place for artists to work together, encourage each other, have exhibits, travel to other countries, and network.

As a very young and emerging artist, Smith was able to interface with a network of seasoned African American artists, many historically important in American Art. Mentored by John A. Lockart, knowing David Driskell, Howandena Pindell, Romare Bearden, Shirley Woodson and Al Loving had the greatest influence on his personal development of style.

After retiring from a career as the advertising and display coordinator for the Automobile Club of Michigan in 2007 (and remaining an exhibiting artist), Smith, and his immediate family (partner Calvin Mims and Shirley Mims) moved to Fayetteville.

Besides being an artist, the move to North Carolina began a new chapter in his life when he became an educator. Currently Smith is a tenured Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine Art.

While teaching at Fayetteville State University with a master’s degree, another important influence on Smith was when he decided to go back to graduate school to earn a Master of Fine Art at the Art Institute of Boston.

He stated, “Everyone needs something or someone to solidify the legitimacy of your work during different phases. While earning my MFA the comments from the visiting artists helped to do that. As well, it was a period when I could revisit and analyze my work up to that point.”

Smith’s accomplishments as an artist are way too extensive to start listing in this editorial. It suffices to say he is an artist who continues to show regionally, nationally and internationally, his works continues to be purchased by collectors, his paintings are in many private and public collections, including museums, and he has received many national honors and awards.

Dwight Smith (and his partner Calvin Mims) have had a significant impact on the arts in Fayetteville by owning and operating Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street.

In addition, Smith has significantly contributed to the cultural landscape of Fayetteville and nationally by exhibiting, his continued participation in NCA, scholarly presentations, curating significant exhibits, and his community/professional service.

Revelation: 50 Years of Painting at the Art Council is well worth the time to visit. But it is not an exhibit to rush through. One will have to spend quiet time with the work to see how a consummate artist gives evidence to a well-known statement:

By knowing your craft, you spend less time in thinking about the process and can focus on the “why” of painting.”

The exhibition opens during 4th Friday on July 23. The public is invited to the free event, and the exhibition will remain up until September 11.

For information on the exhibition call the Arts Council at 910-323-1776 or visit www.theartscouncil.com/.

The Arts Council is located at 301 Hay St. in Fayetteville. Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

Pictured above: "Wading in the Water Alvin Ailey" by Dwight Smith

Pictured Below:

(Left) "Homage to Al Loving" by Dwight Smith

(Middle) "A Conversation with Norman Lewis" by Dwight Smith

(Right) "Girl in the Yellow Raincoat" by Dwight Smith

11 11

12 5 13 Girl in the Yellow Raincoat

 

 

The portrait, as a subject, in comtemporary art

09 The Struggle by Angela StoutBecoming a professional artist can be a personal goal early in life, or it can be the result of a series of unexpected events and influences. Due to the latter reason, I thought it was particularly important to write an editorial about the artist Angela Stout; but also, to write about her notable exhibition titled Evoke at the Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville.

First and foremost, Angela Stout is an extraordinary artist who is able to successfully cross disciplines and be exceptional in whatever medium she undertakes. Anyone who visits the Cape Fear Studios, to see her recent body of work, will be pleasantly surprised at the artists’ approach and method to painting, sculpting the figure, and printmaking.

The challenge for any artist who focuses on the portrait is how the subject, an important genre in the history of art, fits into the rage and complexity of contemporary art styles. For Stout, the subject is just the starting point to reveal more than a likeness, but an essence that transcends the individual, an ascension to a state of being that is our humanity. For this artist, it is our humanity that connects us -not gender, sex or race.

Visitors to Evoke will see a body of work which reflects this artist’s vision about the place of portraiture in contemporary art. For Stout, portraiture is not just about a likeness, but her intent is to evoke emotion and transcend the focus from the individual to the many. What she may not realize is that she creates a context that is inclusive and illusive at the same time; we sense the precipice, we sense the humanity in the room – and it is everyone.

All the paintings in the exhibit are 30” x 40” on stretched canvas, the scale of the figure, larger than life-size, invites our attention. On close inspection you can see the marks of color from Stout’s paint brush being dragged across the surface or the blending of layers of color - she moves seamlessly between opacity and translucency as needed. The painting titled “O” is an example of her exactitude and pursuit to move past the individual to a human condition, using only the warm and cool colors of indigo, phthalo blue, and a hint of magenta.

As in all her paintings, Stout has a clear understanding of the potential of color and its complexity to create meaning on different levels - all at the same time. For example, she is keenly aware of the characteristics of color and ways to exploit its complexity: the symbolism of a color, the temperature and weight of color, tone, tint, shade, and saturation are all possible means for Stout to create a feeling, an emotion, a moment, or even a state of beingness.

Visitors to the Cape Fear Studio will see how Stout moves easily between mediums. Not only are their nine new paintings, but she is also exhibiting 4 portrait heads in clay, and over eighteen monoprints. What becomes relevant is why and how she moves effortlessly between mediums. In order to get to the significance of an artist successfully working in different mediums, I need to go back to the beginning of the article: “becoming a professional artist can be the result
of a series of unexpected events and
influences.”

Stout, raised in Ohio, the city of Warren, has drawn since she was three years old. At the age of 16, she asked her mother for a Bob Ross kit as a Christmas gift, and her mother surprised her with the Master Bob Ross kit (complete with supplies and a video). In high school she focused on playing drums instead of art lessons and was told upon graduation that she was not prepared or good enough, as an
artist, to apply to art school.

Those negative words and lack of encouragement from a teacher changed the direction of her life for the next twenty years. After serving in the military, married with three children, almost completing a degree in radiology before she became ill, now married again with 2 additional children (for a total of 5): Stout was out of the army and painting portraits as a self-taught artist in Broadway, North Carolina. With encouragement from family and friends, she enrolled in and completed a two-year Associate of Arts degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College, which included four art classes.
Stout had the experiences of painting murals for dayrooms when she was in the military, but it was the beginning painting and drawing classes at FTCC where she received her first formal instruction in the mechanics of drawing and painting. Katey Morrill, her painting instructor, identified her preferences in painting and introduced her to significant artists for her to study, those artists who focused on using light to create dramatic effects. Equally important, Stout was encouraged by the art faculty to become a professional artist and continue into a 4-year art program.

Confident in her achievements at FTCC, Stout entered Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine art and was affectionately told “you have a lot of talent” and “you have a long way to go.” Only working in black, white and greys, her solid education from FTCC was the beginning of her personal journey in the arts.
Stout worked with five different instructors at FSU, each bringing their own influence. After taking fifteen hours in art history and art criticism, painting classes, printmaking classes, and various sculpture classes she graduated from FSU with a 4.0 average. Because of Stout’s ambition to know as much as she could and her work ethics, she worked tirelessly at the challenges each course would demand but was always open to new ways of seeing and working.

Stout explains it like this: “Painting classes improved my understanding of color theory and composition, printmaking classes challenged the way I viewed the process of painting and image-making, from painting I could create volume in clay modeling, and clay modeling helped me to see spatially and that helped my painting. Art criticism and contemporary art class challenged everything I thought I knew, I was then able to refine the direction of my work, I become open to new possibilities in ways I had never considered before.”

Stout was not only a student of art who wanted to know all that she could learn in a short period of time, but she was always taking advantage of any situation where she could exhibit her work. She participated in local and national exhibitions, put her artworks in coffee house and any place that would showcase her works.

By the time she graduated from FSU in 2019, and soon after, she had created and was facilitating a Facebook page called “acrylicpaintingforeveryone” (link at the end of the article) which has 106,000 vetted members. A website created as a positive social media platform to encourage anyone who paints, includes an exchange of ideas, videos, tips, and critiques.

Stout has been in many exhibitions, local and regional. Due to her social media persistence, a curator contacted her to exhibit one of her paintings in an online exhibition in Milan, Italy during COVID. As an advocate of the arts, Stout is a member of the Cape Fear Studios and regularly gives classes to any age interested in painting. She participates in community outreach projects and continues to do portrait commissions.

Anyone who has visited the exhibit, and those who have plans to see Evoke at the Cape Fear Studios might be interested to know what influenced the direction of her work. Stout was asked how her work has evolved over the last ten years. She began by saying: “In the beginning it was important to learn and practice technique. I was self-taught so I did not understand the philosophy behind art, and the ways in which my work needed to be developing. Studying art and art movements, understanding the evolution of art gave me the courage to evolve in my own way.”

She continued, “Initially I just wanted to develop technically and portray the subject as accurate as possible. Now I want to convey an emotion. Every aspect of the painting is important to the overall meaning, the subject, color, abstraction, and techniques are used to evoke an emotion.”

“I never would have thought that courses in printmaking could have had such a dramatic effect on how I see painting, but it did? I am a perfectionist, but in the printmaking studio any number of things can happen, often accidents, that made me understand how process is relevant. I didn’t have the expectations I was going to be a professional printmaker at the time, so I felt I was free to fail and to explore. All good lessons, I moved from mimicry to intent in my work - possibilities in printmaking translated into possibilities in painting.”

After working six months towards her first-person exhibition, I was interested to know what the experience meant to her after the opening and what her future plans are as a professional, free lance artist. Stout was resolute in her response, “I feel as if my intent for the exhibit was met, and I hope the works communicate the emotional connections to anyone who see the exhibit in the painting, the sculpture or a print. During the process, I had to make choices during the making, I felt a sense of relief that, as a whole, there is a continuity in the body of work.”

“My plans at this time are to continue to explore image making and intent, continue teaching, network for opportunities to exhibit. It would be nice to have a gallery outside of North Carolina carry my work, and I love being involved in community projects. At this time, I have written a grant for disabled veterans to take my workshop in acrylic painting and healing; and I have a written a grant to be able to work with Gold Star Children. One big goal is to write an extensive grant for underprivileged children to have art lessons and artkits. Afterall, it was a Bob Ross Master Kit, given to me when I was 16 years old, that made a big impact on the direction my life would eventually take in the arts!”

Visitors to the Cape Fear Studios at 148 Maxwell Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina will be able to see Angela Stouts’ exhibit titled Evoke until July 20th, 2021. The hours of the studios are Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Email the gallery at artgallery@capefearstudios.com or call 910-433-2986.

To join Angela Stouts Facebook page for “acrylicpaintingforeveryone” the link is www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=acrylicpaintingforeveryone.
For information in taking classes with Angela Stout, call 910-433-2986 for information on times and cost.

08 O by Angela Stout

Sandhills Jazz Society hosts Come Together City Music Festival July 10

12 VON DThe Sandhills Jazz Society is back after more than a year on a COVID hiatus. The Come Together City Music Festival will take place July 10 at J.P. Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville featuring some of North Carolina's finest jazz and rhythm and blues artists.

Scheduled to appear are Reggie Codrington, Von Demetriz, George Freeman, Dez Humphrey and Buddy Mcleod.

The Sandhills Jazz Society shares a musical vision that encompasses a wide spectrum of jazz, blues, world, creative and improvised music, including evolving forms of jazz and the technologies and media that influence jazz as an art form. The result is an entertaining evening for audiences who enjoy jazz, blues, funk and soul, and everything that falls in between.

Founded in 2018, the Sandhills Jazz Society is a community-based nonprofit arts education organization in Fayetteville. Members strive to promote interest in jazz music across multiple generations. The goal is to bring awareness to jazz and other music genres and strengthen the arts community by offering performances, collaborations, workshops and other educational opportunities.

Tickets for the Come Together City Music Festival can be purchased on the website for $25 dollars or $35 on the day of the event. The gates will open at 4 p.m. will performances scheduled to begin
at 6 p.m.

This event will happen rain or shine and all ticket sales are final. Outside food and drink are not permitted but there will be several food vendors at the festiv al.

J.P. Riddle Stadium is located at 2823 Legion Road. For more information about this event and future events visit the website at www.sandhillsjazz.com/ or call 910-987-2426.

Pictured Above : Von Demetriz

Summer concerts offer variety for local audiences

15 JMF Band picWarm weather and sunshine invite us to venture outdoors to enjoy friends, good food, a favorite beverage and great music. With the easing of COVID restrictions, we are seeing the local summer concert scene flourish with opportunities to entertain fans of all kinds of music – from classic rock to jazz. On July 17, local audiences can venture over to the Gates Four Golf & Country Club Pavilion and enjoy a Rockin’ in the 80s party with the Jan Michael Fields Band.

Fields is a charismatic performer known as one of the top vocalists in the southeast. His stellar voice and ability to work the stage are just as relevant today as in the 80s when he was the frontman for the international touring act, Sidewinder. A consummate professional, Fields’ dedication to his craft earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for outstanding contributions and support of the North Carolina music industry.

“I started beating around on pots and pans when I was about 6 years old. That’s where my love for music started,” Fields said. “I started with the drums as my first musical instrument and played in the high school band. Then, I joined the school chorus, because I always loved singing and performing. I remember when MTV played ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by The Buggles, and it made me want to be in a band even more,” said Fields Band.

Since he was 18 years old, Fields knew that music was something he wanted to pursue as a career. In 1985, he joined the band Sidewinder, which toured up and down the east coast, as well as parts of the Midwest and Canada. The COVID pandemic put a halt to live performances, but the band is ready to hit the stage and entertain audiences.

After the Fayetteville show at Gates Four, the band will perform at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh later this year. The Jan Michael Fields Band has been performing hits of the 70s and 80s for 7 years, completing several hundreds of shows across the region.

“We really enjoy bringing music to people and watching them sing along, smile and unwind. I have a great group of guys behind me that make what I do possible,” said Fields.

Tickets for Rockin’ in the 80s with the Jan Michael Fiends Band all concert dates are available for purchase online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com. Tickets are $60 per person and include the concert, food and lawn seating (bring your chairs).

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with food served from 6-7:30 p.m. A complete line of beverages will be available at three convenient full-service cash bars serving Healy Wholesale beer, wine products and mixed drinks. Concierge table service will be provided for VIP tables inside the Pavilion. Fayetteville's own Mash House Brewery will also have a large selection of their custom craft beers available.

For VIP Tables, group rates or more information, call 910-391-3859. Tickets are limited in order to keep the concert attendees comfortable and socially distanced.

Green Book traveling exhibit showing at Museum of the Cape Fear

17 Green Book Web Inside 1140x450 2The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, has created a new traveling exhibit about sites important to, and personal memories about, American travel during the “Jim Crow” era of legal segregation. The Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina traveling exhibit will be at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex though July 9.

“The Negro Motorist Green Book,” published between 1936 and 1966, was both a guide and a tool of resistance designed to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and beyond. The book listed over 300 North Carolina businesses — from restaurants and hotels, to tourist homes, nightclubs and beauty salons — in the three decades that is was published.

The exhibit highlights a complex statewide network of business owners and Green Book sites that allowed African American communities to thrive, and that created “oasis spaces” for a variety of African American travelers.

Eight vibrant panels form the traveling exhibit, showcasing images of business owners, travelers and historic and present-day images of North Carolina Green Book sites.

The words of African American travelers and descendants of Green Book site owners are featured prominently in the exhibit. Each of these stories are from oral histories collected by the AAHC in 2018 and 2019.

This exhibit was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and there is no fee to see this exhibit. Two versions will tour the state’s African American cultural centers, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, history museums, historic sites and libraries. For more tour dates and locations, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/green-book-project. For additional information about the exhibit, call 919-814-6516.

The Museum of the Cape Fear is located on the corner of Bradford and Arsenal avenues in Fayetteville, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. The museum operates under the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

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